Turkey sent 500,000 coronavirus test kits to United States: health minister

Turkey sent 500,000 coronavirus test kits to United States: health minister
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said it had sent half a million coronavirus testing kits to the United States.
2 min read
19 March, 2020
Turkey has sent half a million coronavirus testing kits to the US [NurPhoto/Getty]
Turkey has sent 500,000 coronavirus testing kits to the United States, the country's health minister said Thursday.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca made the remarks in Turkey's parliament, Reuters reported, adding that Ankara wanted to "rapidly" ramp up its own testing within the country.

Turkey has carried out more than 10,000 tests, Koca said.

Turkey's Super Lig was suspended indefinitely Thursday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the sports minister announced, after the football federation came under fire for insisting games go ahead.

"We decided all together to suspend the league," Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu said in a televised speech after meeting with the chiefs of the football, volleyball and basketball federations.

Turkish Football Federation chief Nihat Ozdemir said the period of suspension would be decided later.

Super Lig games have so far gone ahead behind closed doors despite criticism from players and coaches.

Former Nigeria international John Obi Mikel quit Turkish football club Trabzonspor because he did not want to play in the midst of the pandemic. 

[Click to enlarge]

Other players and coaches, including legendary manager and ex-player Fatih Terim, had called on the TFF to suspend the championship, like most other countries.

Three people have died in Turkey while 191 cases have been officially recorded, according to the Turkish health minister said.

Read more: Special coverage: How many coronavirus cases are there in the Middle East?

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases have surged past 9,400 in the US with 150 deaths.

Deborah Birx, the coronavirus taskforce administrator, warned of a dramatic increase in cases as testing ramps up in the coming days, and forecast that the number of cases will exceed Italy's.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a $100 billion emergency aid package that ensures sick leave to American workers who fall ill from the virus, free coronavirus testing, paid family leave and a bolstering of unemployment insurance.

Lawmakers are now negotiating over another measure - possibly among the largest federal emergency plans ever - that reportedly would include up to $500 billion in direct payments to Americans, $300 billion in loans to small businesses and another $300 billion in deferred tax payments.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected